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Why We’re Not Impressed By Paragon Care Limited’s (ASX:PGC) 4.3% ROCE

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Paragon Care Limited (ASX:PGC) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that 'one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar'.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for Paragon Care:

0.043 = AU$14m ÷ (AU$407m - AU$75m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Paragon Care has an ROCE of 4.3%.

Check out our latest analysis for Paragon Care

Is Paragon Care's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, Paragon Care's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 9.3% average reported by the Healthcare industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Regardless of how Paragon Care stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

Paragon Care's current ROCE of 4.3% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 5.7% ROCE. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Paragon Care's past growth compares to other companies.

ASX:PGC Past Revenue and Net Income, August 6th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Paragon Care.

How Paragon Care's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they need to be paid within 12 months. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Paragon Care has total assets of AU$407m and current liabilities of AU$75m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 18% of its total assets. This is not a high level of current liabilities, which would not boost the ROCE by much.

What We Can Learn From Paragon Care's ROCE

While that is good to see, Paragon Care has a low ROCE and does not look attractive in this analysis. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.